Government through the Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to ensure that critical water resources are well managed and accounted for in Zambia.
The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Bishop Ed Chomba said the signing of the MOU is a milestone that would accelerate the Ministry’s effort of improving service delivery in environmental management.
“The signing of the MOU is in line with the 7th National Development Plan and SDG number 17 which encourages multi sectoral partnership for sustainable development,” said Bishop Chomba.
Mr. Chomba said the MOU spells out the areas of cooperation between the Ministry and WWF which include the provision of technical expertise as well as organizational support for monitoring and research, capacity improvement and information management systems, support the raising of awareness of the value and importance of natural resource conservation.
The PS said the effects of human induced changes taking place in the World’s climate especially trends towards global warming were visible for everyone globally and regionally.
Mr. Chomba said addressing the effects of climate change calls for concerted effort from all stakeholders.
He called upon all the stakeholders in the Environment and Water sectors to join hands with government in ensuring that Zambia’s environment and natural resources were managed on a sustainable basis and retain the integrity to support the needs of the current and future generations.
And World Wide Fund for Nature WWF Country Director, Nachilala Nkombo said the MOU marks a turning point of strengthened collaboration and partnership between the two institutions that would ensure critical water resources are well managed and accounted for in benefiting the future generation.
Ms. Nkombo said despite the massive role water plays to meet the needs of the population, the economy and the environment, fresh water has become a surprisingly scarce resource and that less than 1% of the World’s water is fresh, safe and accessible for use without treatment.
“Climate change, population growth and changing consumption patterns are a few forces putting fresh water systems increasingly at risk and that without forward planning, strategic and deliberate interventions to protect water sources and resources the risks of water security will escalate,” Ms. Nkombo noted.
Ms. Nkombo further said not only was the issue around water a quantity issue, fresh water species were declining at the alarming rate of 76% much faster than terrestrial or marine species.
She said fresh water habitats were in worse condition than those of forests, grassland or coastal systems and that this was alarming for environmental matters.
The WWF Country Director also said that the organization’s ongoing work with partners on key landscapes such as the Kafue flats, the Luangwa basin and the upper Zambezi had shown that without healthy ecosystems in well-functioning watersheds, the infrastructure built for irrigation and hydro-power or municipal water supply would not function sustainably.
“In Luangwa WWF is working together with other CSO’s and communities to raise awareness of the immense value of the Luangwa river and why it should be declared a water resource protection area,” said Ms. Nkombo.
She further said that in Kabombo and Barotse landscapes of the upper Zambezi the organization’s work range from supporting the monitoring of the river basin to informing decision making in integrated water acknowledgement of the cultural heritage of the Barotse landscape.
While in lower Kafue, WWF stated that the organization was partnering with other stakeholders to have collective strengths in addressing consequential threats.
Ms. Nkombo also commended the Zambian government for taking a stand through signing the Paris Agreement that has committed to deliver on a land mark global plan to curb climate change and that another opportunity in 2020 to join other countries to sign the global new deal for nature will ensure that global effort could help in reversing the trend with respect to rapid biodiversity loss.